When one thinks of the IPs that defined the PS3, the inFamous series must be included. It may not have the same critical and commercial adoration as LittleBigPlanet, Uncharted or Demon’s Souls, but it was an almost singularly fun series, with a surprising amount of heart and pathos. It was an IP that did not deserve to fall to the wayside, which makes us very excited to know that a new entry will soon be available on the PS4.
Though many thought that the conclusive and massively divergent endings to inFamous 2 was an indication that Sucker Punch was prepared to step away from the IP and move on to something new, reports have said otherwise. The full truth is currently beyond our ken, but we do know that the studio, freshly acquired to become a part of Sony’s first party, began work on a third entry in their well recieved superhero series. Second Son was initially revealed as a flagship game of the Playstation 4 at the same event that the console was unveiled.
One of the tenets behind the game appears to be to show just how much of a technological leap the PS4 is over its predecessor, and one of the areas in which this is most apparent is in the graphics. Prior titles have never really felt as though they were pushing the hardware, and, while Second Son is no Killzone: Shadow Fall, it is still surprisingly good looking, with the particle effects being a real standout. However, the real upgrades to the game are those that have been made to the core experience of the player.
In many respects, the core of what made the first two inFamous games so fun remains firmly in place for Second Son. From the suitably large open world featuring a degree of environmental diversity and a number of landmarks, to the ease of traversal granted by a combination of an intuitive parkour system and expanded movement options provided by the character’s superpowers and the practical application of those powers in combat, every aspect has been expanded upon.
The most immediately apparent of these is a reworking of the powers. Whereas Cole was capable of manipulating electricity (as well as ice and fire in a limited capacity in the second game), Delsin has a much wider array of abilities at his command. Thus far we have been made aware of the smoke and neon powers, though Sucker Punch has promised that there will be more on top of these. When it comes to combat, of the two that have been announced, it has been revealed that the smoke powers have the most impact in melee confrontations, with Delsin being able to dissolve into smoke to teleport short distances to deliver more powerful attacks, while neon is designed as a long-range power, being with accuracy and projectile strength greater than that of smoke.
Both power sets also have practical applications outside of combat, with the teleportation of the smoke giving Delsin the ability to propel himself higher into the air when gliding, as well as drastically decreasing the amount of time it takes to climb buildings with the ability to instantly send himself through ventilation shafts. Neon, on the other hand, has a decidedly cool ability in its speed-run, which allows Delsin to run straight up walls and generally get around much, much faster than he ordinarily would. We can only hope that the remainder of the powers have abilities with the same wow factor. Interestingly, players will only have one set of powers at their disposal at any given time, needing to absorb a different element to switch sets.
Outside of these alterations, it seems that the gameplay is similar to that found in earlier games, with missions varying in their objectives from reconnaissance to combat and traversal challenges. Also returning will be collectibles, though what form they will take, and what impact they will have on the character or story remain undivulged at this point. One of the more interesting aspects of the gameplay is the way that Sucker Punch is utilizing the Dualshock 4’s touchpad to engage players more thoroughly. It is being used to increase the number of “verbs” at the player’s disposal, and this amounts to unlocking gates, using fingerprint scanners, and other such miscellaneous activities. It is not a great deal to get excited about, but it is an example of how it might be used in the future to expand on typical gameplay mechanics.
Second Son takes place seven years on from the good ending of inFamous 2, but the promised extinction of Conduits has not come to pass. In the wake of the events that occurred in Empire City and New Marais, the US government has set up the Department of Unified Protection (DUP), which is dedicated to protecting regular citizens from the threat posed by Conduits, now called “Bioterrorists”. The world lives in a state of fear, and there is a very clear prejudice against the superhumans. Against this backdrop, 27 year old Delsin Rowe discovers that he is one of “them” when a bus carrying Bioterrorist prisoners crashes near him.
The game takes place in Seattle, and tells of Delsin’s interactions with the DUP, though the larger arc has thus far been kept under wraps. Unlike Cole, who often felt like a “good guy” regardless of the moral path that players took, Delsin is more ambiguous, appearing to enjoy having his powers merely for the sake of having them, rather than what they mean for him. And it is implied that he could be the strongest Bioterrorist going. His power is to absorb those of other Bioterrorists (drawing comparisons to Heroes’ Peter Petrelli).
Like the previous games, Second Son will offer moral choices that will ultimately lead to either a good or evil ending. It has been stated that these choices won’t necessarily be as black and white as was previously the case, and that is a very good thing. We would like to think that that means that the upgrades open to the player are not tied to their moral alignment, but that may just be wishful thinking. In any case, the setting is one with a lot of storytelling potential and dropping a morally ambiguous character into the midst of it only increases the promise.
From Sly Cooper to inFamous, Sucker Punch Productions have always furnished players with games that are a lot of fun, and their storytelling is only getting better as they go along. We might have wished for a new IP from these guys as we entered a new generation, but we are not about to turn our noses up at a chance to return to the shoes of their unique brand of superhero. InFamous: Second Son has an expected worldwide launch date of March 21st, 2014, exclusively for the PlayStation 4.